An ordinal number is a number that names the place or position of an object in a sequence or set (e.g., first, third). While nearly any good picture book can be used to teach ordinal numbers by sequencing events in the story (What did the hungry caterpillar eat first? What is the third thing that happens after you give a mouse a cookie?), finding books that incorporate ordinal numbers as part of the story can be challenging. This post suggests some books and web resources that can support instruction in this area.
In VA, ordinal numbers are found in the Standards of Learning in grades K and 2. The resources in this post are most appropriate for kindergarten. (SOL and Background Info at end of post.)
10 Little Rubber Ducks. By Eric Carle. Illus. by the author. 2005. 36p. Harper Collins, (9780060740757). Gr. preK-1.
Eric Carle took the true story of rubber ducks fallen overboard and imagined their fate. Ducks are identified by ordinal numbers, first through tenth. Also includes cardinal directions and other directional terms.
20 Hungry Piggies: A Number Book. By Trudy Harris. Illus. by Andrew Harris. 2006. 32p. Milbrook Picture Books, (9780822563709). Gr. preK-K.
The wolf from "The Three Little Pigs" shows up at a party attended by lots of piggies, but his plans for dinner are disrupted by the pigs from "This Little Piggy Went to Market." Instead of using the familiar “this little piggy,” readers instead get piggies introduced by ordinal number (the first piggy, second piggy, etc.)
The First Day of Winter. By Denise Fleming. Illus. by the author. 2005. 32p. Henry Holt and Co., (9780805073843). Gr. preK-K.
This variation on The Twelve Days of Christmas highlights the gifts given to a snowman from his young friend. Focuses on ordinal numbers first through tenth.
Henry the Fourth. By Stuart Murphy. Illus. by Scott Nash. 1990. 40p. Harper Collins, (9780064467193). Gr. preK-1.
The most talented dogs on the block perform upon the command of their young owners. The dogs line up for their turns and are identified by ordinal numbers. Henry, of course, performs fourth.
Seven Blind Mice. By Ed Young. Illus. by the author. 2002. 40p. Putnam Juvenile, (9780698118959). Gr. preK-2.
This variation of the blind men and the elephant tale uses mice identified by color and ordinal number.
This site provides a variety of activity ideas for use with the book 10 LITTLE RUBBER DUCKS by Eric Carle.
This site contains a 9 page interactive tutorial exploring ordinal numbers in a variety of ways.
This site contains a number of downloadable materials for use with the book THE LITTLE SCHOOL BUS by Carol Roth. One of the available resources is for ordinal numbers.
This kindergarten lesson plan focuses on ordinal numbers using the book HENRY THE FOURTH by Stuart J. Murphy.
This page contains a number of lesson plans on ordinal numbers using SmartBoard technology.
A worm pokes its head out of an apple. Students must choose the apple hiding the worm by selecting the correct ordinal number word.
This site from Harcourt Math provides background information on teaching ordinal numbers and a narrated teaching model for students.
Students watch a set of toy cars race to the finish and then must drag them to the appropriate ordinal place. This uses first through third place and can be repeated with each race ending in different results.
VA Standard of Learning
K.3 The student, given an ordered set of ten objects and/or pictures, will indicate the ordinal position of each object, first through tenth, and the ordered position of each object.
Background Information from Curriculum Framework
- Understanding the cardinal and ordinal meanings of numbers are necessary to quantify, measure, and identify the order of objects.
- An ordinal number is a number that names the place or position of an object in a sequence or set (e.g., first, third). Ordered position, ordinal position, and ordinality are terms that refer to the place or position of an object in a sequence or set.
- The ordinal position is determined by where one starts in an ordered set of objects or sequence of objects.
- The ordinal meaning of numbers is developed by identifying and verbalizing the place or position of objects in a set or sequence (e.g., the student’s position in line when students are lined up alphabetically by first name).